Having just received a heart-stoppingly high electricity bill I am feeling even more eco-minded than normal, which put me in mind of one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend in Tokyo – the markets in Yoyogi-Koen. Located between Harajuku and Shibuya the park itself is one of the few quiet places in Tokyo where you can just sit and look out at the capitalist empire that surrounds you and occasionally, thanks to organisations like Earth Day, you have the occasional opportunity to subvert it. There used to be a whole lot more markets – mostly unregulated – but thanks to the same reform that stopped street performance of Akihabara all markets now need to be organised and registered in advance, which has cut down on the boho feel, but at least they are still going on.
One of my personal recommendations is the Earth Day Market held once a month which combines organic and delicious food with small stalls, live music and lots of booze. It attracts a pretty cool hippy crowd who look like they are venturing out of Koenji for the first time that month and plenty of young families (and me).
Continue reading for a flurry of pictures from the last one I went to, aside from the obvious fun, there are quite a few fashion-forward-friendly buys to be had as well…
You can almost forget that you are deep in the heart of the endless sprawl of Tokyo here, the noise of tribal drums is drowning out the drone from the roads and the air thick with incense and aromatic food.
Needless to say as fan of organic jewelry, I am in my element, as I am as a fan of a bargain. This is one of those magic occasions in Japanese shopping that good-natured bargaining is encouraged – a guide to which I want to get round to writing soon.
Expect lots of handmade and individual work, mostly with an ethnic or more traditional Japanese flair.
I am a huge fan of the more obscure end of organics – horns, roots and rare woods. It can be a challenge to effectively place them within an outfit, but as a collector of obscurities I always approve.
But aside from the shopping element, it is mostly about enjoying the atmosphere of creation and expression. A chance to escape briefly from the endless city – which ironically you have probably worked damn hard to get into…
Lots of snakes here at bargain prices compared to Ueno or 109-2’s Goa. Certainly if you are on the hunt for something out of the ordinary, these kind of markets are the place you will find it.
This kind of amateur glass blowing is really popular at the moment in Japan and can be truly remarkable up close.
But it can also be cheap, fun and twee at the same time.
It has to be said that only in Japan are the stalls at an amateur market as well merchandised as a department store in the rest of the world!
There was also an awful lot of pottery – which seems to be the hobby of choice for a lot of retired people these days.
Some really nice pieces here, lots of pure silver, damascus steel and even some meteorite.
You can tell where my focus was…
I do love my accessories.
I hope you enjoyed my little look into the Earth Day Market and another side of Tokyo life. The Eco movement in Japan is slightly different to that in the West, in that it is rarely associated with the same kind of liberalism. For example it is rarely associated with drugs, veganism, anti-fur, etc – it is more about a relaxed lifestyle, supporting eco projects, organic farming and NGOs in developing countries. In that way it is less controversial and has met with little to no resistance by society at large which explains why this relatively new event was such an instant hit.
If you are around in Tokyo when one is on, you should definitely check it out and you will probably see me there.